There is a bitter row between the management of Bukwali Mosque in Fort Portal and Ahmed Mayanja, a squatter on the mosque land.
Ibrahim Kisitu, the chairperson Bukwali Mosque Management Committee, says Mayanja has refused to vacate the mosque land to give way for its expansion and construction of a school.
Kisitu explains that in the early 1900s, Tooro Kingdom allocated Muslims 5 hectares of land for the construction of the mosque, adding that they have a freehold tittle for the land.
He notes that since Bukwali Mosque was the first in Western Uganda, part of its land was used as a cemetery by past Muslim leaders. He says the remaining land was allocated to Muslims on grounds that they would return it if needed.
Kisutu notes that following the death of Mayanja's father Uthman Aligawesa, who was a squatter on the mosque land, his son has refused to vacate the land, saying his father bequeathed it to him.
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He explains that when the new Tooro Kadhi, Sheikh Galibu Hussein assumed office, he proposed the construction of a magnificent mosque on the land, but Mayanja has refused to leave.
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Kisitu also says Mayanja has snubbed several meetings convened to notify the squatters about the proposed developments on the mosque land.
He says the remaining squatters have indicated their willingness to vacate the land. Ramathan Tibisima, an elder in the mosque and one of the former squatters, says Mayanja's actions have severely frustrated the mosque plans.
"We can't do anything now because we already have the plan of the new mosque, we have the money but we can't start the construction because the available land is not enough," he said.
Mayanja accuses the mosques leadership of attempting to evict him without hearing his side of the story. According to Mayanja, he has a house and banana plantation on the mosque land and needs time and money to relocate to another area.
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A member of Mayanja's family who declined to identify herself, says they were not given sufficient notice to vacate the mosque land.
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Hussein Ibrahim, the chairperson of Uganda Muslims Supreme Council in Tooro Region, says the issue of squatters refusing to vacate mosque land is widespread.
He advises Muslim leaders to stop giving mosque land to squatters without making formal agreements to avoid such complications.